Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

What is PID?

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is an infection of the female upper genital tract, including the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

PID is common, although it's not clear how many women are affected in the UK.

It mostly affects sexually active women aged 15 to 24.

Most are caused by bacteria that normally live in the vagina or cervix spreading up into the upper organs; only about 25% are caused by sexually transmitted infections that can be identified such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea.

What are the symptoms?

PID often doesn't cause any obvious symptoms.

Most women have mild symptoms: pain in the lower abdomen ,discomfort or pain during sex that's felt deep inside the pelvis, bleeding between periods and after sex, heavy /painful periods , unusual vaginal discharge, especially if it's yellow or green.

A few women become very ill with: severe lower abdominal pain, high temperature, nausea and vomiting.

How is it diagnosed?

The diagnosis of PID is made after taking the medical history, examining you and looking at samples taken under the microscope (if available). A full sexual health screen , bloods , urine and pregnancy tests will be taken.

There is no one single, reliable, diagnostic test that’s routinely and widely available - MRI scans are good at picking up the signs but are not available everywhere.

What is the treatment?

This is treated with a course of antibiotic tablets, sometimes together with one injection given in the clinic.

You will be asked to take two antibiotics given for a course of treatment which is usually for two weeks - this is because there are often multiple bacteria involved.

The treatment must be completed even if you start to feel better and even if your tests come back clear.

If you are struggling with the tablets, you must call the clinic before you think about stopping them.

You shouldn’t have sex whilst taking the treatment and all of your sexual partners must be treated, even if your tests are negative as not all of the bacteria that cause PID can be tested for.

Useful information

For more information visit the NHS website.